First Aid Kit for the Outdoors

Since about 1991 I have been responsible for people in the outdoors in one guise or another. In the early 1990s I was a platoon commander in the Territorial Army, and then later on, I became a school teacher taking teenagers on adventures to the Lakes, Snowdonia and Scotland. And then later still working, as I do now, professionally as mountain leader, rock climbing instructor and mountain bike leader. In all those years I have dealt with many first aid incidents with several that have needed the assistance of the emergency services. But, in all those years, and in all those situations, from fallen climbers to hypothermic walkers to the chap who suffered with a heart attack on Great Gable … I don’t think I have ever needed to tie a bandage as a first aider. But what I almost always have needed, was a calm head, a reassuring voice, something to keep my casualty warm, and a plan. So if you cover nothing else, make sure you know what to do, and have something to keep your casualty warm and off the cold floor.

Here I look at what you should reasonably consider carrying as a first-aider in the great British outdoors. I haven’t suggested something for every conceivable situation since often you will have to use your initiative, or simply make do. And anyway, if you end up packing your fears, you’ll simply pack a first aid kit that is so large you’d just leave it at home!

image showing two first-aiders looking after a fallen climber on an Outdoor First Aid course
Casualty monitoring card – essential first aid kit

Individual first aid kit for the UK

A key consideration here is that exposure to the environment can be the most dangerous factor affecting you and your casualty’s safety and situation. Also it is presumed here that you will be in a remote environment away from shelter.  And naturally the best thing that you can invest in is first aid training!

1 x half roll mat
1 x survival bag / group shelter (depending on what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with)
2m of Gaffa tape rolled around a water bottle
1 x mobile phone (kept inside a plastic wallet)
2 x protective nitrile gloves
several low adherent pads (different sizes)
2 x sterile dressings
2 x packs of steri-strips
1 x crepe bandage
1 x sam splint (a sit mat will do a good job too)
10 x plasters
3 x antiseptic wipes
1 x tube of Savlon antiseptic cream
1 x packet second skin / moleskin
1 x blister kit – eg Compede
3 x triangular bandages
1 x packet of ibuprofen*
1 x packet of paracetomol*
1 x packet of anti-histamine tablets*
4 x aspirin tablets
1 x pencil and pen
1 x tweezers
1 x tough cut scissors
1 x casualty card

It is cheapest to buy these as individual items of first aid kit from the chemists / pharmacy and seal safely in a plastic lunch box. A few online suppliers worth looking at are listed below:

If you don’t think you would know how to deal with an emergency first aid incident whilst out on the hill then maybe this is the time to book one of our outdoor first aid courses.

*As a first-aider you should not be giving any medication to a casualty, other than an aspirin for a suspected heart attack. I carry these medications for personal and family use.

Further Reading